Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation Global Practice
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Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation Global Practice
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Last updated August 7, 2023
Xavier Cirera is a senior economist in the Finance, Competitiveness, and Innovation (FCI) Global Practice of the World Bank. His work focuses on innovation and entrepreneurship. He has led the evaluation of innovation policies, including through the development of public expenditure reviews in science, technology, and innovation implemented in Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Ukraine, and Vietnam. He is the coauthor of The Innovation Paradox: Developing-Country Capabilities and the Unrealized Promise of Technological Catch-Up and A Practitioner’s Guide to Innovation Policy: Instruments to Build Firm Capabilities and Accelerate Technological Catch-Up in Developing Countries. His most recent work focuses on the measurement and impact of technology adoption and diffusion. Before joining the World Bank, he served as a research fellow at the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex. He holds a doctorate in economics from the University of Sussex.
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Now showing 1 - 10 of 30
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-07) Cirera, X. ; Lederman, D. ; Máñez, J.A. ; Rochina, M.E. ; Sanchis, J.A.This paper explores the link between exports and total factor productivity in Brazilian manufacturing firms over the period 2000–08. The Brazilian experience is instructive, as it is a case of an economy that expanded aggregate exports significantly, but with stagnant aggregate growth in total factor productivity. The paper first estimates firm-level total factor productivity under alternative assumptions (exogenous and endogenous law of motion for productivity) following a GMM procedure. In turn, the analysis uses stochastic dominance techniques to assess whether the ex ante most productive firms are those that start exporting (self-selection hypothesis). Finally, the paper tests whether exporting boosts firms’ total factor productivity growth (learning-by-exporting hypothesis) using matching techniques to control for the possibility that selection into exports may not be a random process. The results confirm the self-selection hypothesis and show that starting to export yields additional growth in total factor productivity that emerges since the firm’s first year of exporting but lasts only one year. Further, this extra total factor productivity growth is much higher under the assumption of an endogenous law of motion for productivity, which reinforces the importance of accounting for firm export status to study the evolution of productivity.
Catching Up to the Technological Frontier?: Understanding Firm-level Innovation and Productivity in Kenya(World Bank Group, Washington, DC, 2015-03-06) Cirera, XavierKenya s economy has undergone a significant process of structural transformation over the last decade. Since 2002, the economy has shown an accelerating trend with GDP growth increasing steadily from below 1 percent in 2002 to 7 percent in 2007. After a slowdown in GDP growth to 1.5 percent and 2.7 percent in 2008 and 2009 respectively, economic growth started to rebound in 2010. Amidst this positive growth context, in October 2013, the Kenyan Government launched the Second Medium-Term Plan (MTP-2) of the Vision 2030. The aim of Kenya s Vision 2030 is to create a globally competitive and prosperous country with a high quality of life by 2030 and to shift the country s status to upper-middle income level.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2014-09) Cirera, Xavier ; Qasim, QursumIn recent years, support programs for women entrepreneurs have gained traction and prominence as a means to create jobs and boost productivity at the national and regional levels. However, disparities in initial resource endowments of male and female-led firms, sector sorting into low productivity activities, social norms, and institutional arrangements, constrain the growth of female-led enterprises. This note reviews the outcomes of programs supporting female growth entrepreneurs and draws lessons from available evidence to inform the design of more effective programs. The review shows that most programs are primarily geared toward microenterprises, making it difficult to draw conclusions about program design for growth-oriented entrepreneurs, but some early findings point the way forward. Management practices appear to improve as a result of business education, but there is little robust evidence to prove that support programs lead to significant improvements in business performance outcomes. Furthermore, in programs with both male and female participants, firm performance improves in some cases for male-led firms only, not for female-led firms. The note concludes by suggesting the need for more experimentation in the design and delivery of services and a new focus on strengthening the engendering of support programs to more specifically address gender-specific constraints such as social norms, entrepreneurial preferences, and institutional arrangements, changing public discourse, and paying more attention to factors that induce female entrepreneurs to diversify into higher value-added activities. Offering mentoring, networking, and other consulting services, in addition to education on basic business practices and strengthening critical areas such as gender-specific content, can potentially increase the effectiveness of these programs.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-06) Cirera, Xavier ; Muzi, SilviaLittle is known about innovation in developing countries, partly because of the lack of comparable and reliable data. Collecting data on firm-level innovation is challenging because of the subjective definition of what determines an innovation, a problem that is exacerbated in developing countries where innovation is likely to be more incremental and less radical. This paper contributes to the literature by presenting the results of an experiment aiming to identify the survey instrument that better captures firm-level innovation in developing countries. The paper shows that a small set of questions included in a multi-topic, firm-level survey does not provide an accurate picture of firm-level innovation and tends to overestimate innovation rates. Issues related to framing explain some of the unreliability of innovation responses, while cognitive problems do not appear to play a significant role.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-11) Abreha, Kaleb Girma ; Cirera, Xavier ; Fattal Jaef, Roberto N. ; Maemir, Hibret Belete ; Davies, Elwyn ; Maemir, Hibret BeleteThis paper characterizes the firm size distribution by exploiting establishment-level censuses covering both formal and informal firms in Sub-Saharan Africa. The paper finds a "missing middle" in the employment-based size distribution of firms in four Sub-Saharan African countries. This "missing middle" hinges on the inclusion of informal firms, and it is not explained by state- or foreign-owned firms at the top of the size distribution, nor does it emerge from the size distribution of entrants. The paper reconciles these empirical results with a model of firm dynamics with endogenous informality and shows that calibrated values of entry barriers and productivity-dependent idiosyncratic distortions generate a "missing middle" that is consistent with its underlying drivers in the data.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-11) Cirera, Xavier ; Comin, Diego ; Cruz, Marcio ; Lee, Kyung MinThis study collects data on the sophistication of technologies used at the business function level for a representative sample of firms in Vietnam, Senegal, and the Brazilian state of Ceara. The analysis finds a large variance in technology sophistication across the business functions of a firm. The within-firm variance in technology sophistication is greater than the variance in sophistication across firms, which in turn is greater than the variance in sophistication across regions or countries. The paper documents a stable cross-firm relationship between technology at the business function and firm levels, which it calls the technology curve. Significant heterogeneity is uncovered in the slopes of the technology curves across business functions, a finding that is consistent with non-homotheticities in firm-level technology aggregators. Firm productivity is positively associated with the within-firm variance and the average level of technology sophistication. Development accounting exercises show that cross-firm variation in technology accounts for one-third of cross-firm differences in productivity and one-fifth of the agricultural versus non-agricultural gap in cross-country differences in firm productivity.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2021-01) Cirera, Xavier ; Cruz, Marcio ; Davies, Elwyn ; Grover, Arti ; Iacovone, Leonardo ; Lopez Cordova, Jose Ernesto ; Medvedev, Denis ; Okechukwu Maduko, Franklin ; Nayyar, Gaurav ; Reyes Ortega, Santiago ; Torres, JesicaRelying on a novel dataset covering more than 120,000 firms in 60 countries, this paper con-tributes to the debate about D policies to support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic. While governments around the world have implemented a wide range of policy support measures, evidence on the reach of these policies, the alignment of measures with firm needs, and their targeting and effectiveness remains scarce. This paper provides the most comprehensive assessment to date of these issues, focusing primarily on the developing economies. It shows that policy reach has been limited, especially for the more vulnerable firms and countries, and identifies mismatches between policies provided and policies most sought. It also provides some indicative evidence regarding mistargeting of policies and their effectiveness in addressing liquidity constraints and preventing layoffs. This assessment provides some early guidance to policymakers on tailoring their COVID-19 business support packages and points to new directions in data and research efforts needed to guide policy responses to the current pandemic and future crises.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-10) Apedo-Amah, Marie Christine ; Avdiu, Besart ; Cirera, Xavier ; Cruz, Marcio ; Davies, Elwyn ; Grover, Arti ; Iacovone, Leonardo ; Kilinc, Umut ; Medvedev, Denis ; Maduko, Franklin Okechukwu ; Poupakis, Stavros ; Torres, Jesica ; Tran, Trang ThuThis paper provides a comprehensive assessment of the short-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses worldwide with a focus on developing countries. The results are based on a novel data set collected by the World Bank Group and several partner institutions in 51 countries covering more than 100,000 businesses. The paper provides several stylized facts. First, the COVID-19 shock has been severe and widespread across firms, with persistent negative impact on sales. Second, the employment adjustment has operated mostly along the intensive margin (that is leave of absence and reduction in hours), with a small share of firms laying off workers. Third, smaller firms are disproportionately facing greater financial constraints. Fourth, firms are increasingly relying on digital solutions as a response to the shock. Fifth, there is great uncertainty about the future, especially among firms that have experienced a larger drop in sales, which is associated with job losses. These findings provide a better understanding of the magnitude and distribution of the shock, the main channels affecting businesses, and how firms are adjusting. The paper concludes by discussing some avenues for future research.
Publication(Washington, DC: World Bank, 2022-03-01) Cirera, Xavier ; Comin, Diego Adolfo ; Cruz, Marcio ; Lee, Kyungmin ; Torres Coronado, JesicaThis paper estimates the impact of technology sophistication pre-COVID-19 on the performance of firms during the early stages of the pandemic. It exploits a unique data set covering firms from Brazil, Senegal, and Vietnam, using a treatment effect mediation framework to decompose the results into direct and indirect effects. Increasing pre-pandemic technology sophistication by one standard deviation is associated with 3.8 percentage points higher sales. Both effects are positive, but the direct effect is about five times larger than the indirect effect. The total effect on sales is markedly nonlinear with significantly smaller estimates of the reduction in sales for firms with more sophisticated pre-pandemic technology. The results are robust to different measures of digital responses and matching estimators.
Publication(World Bank, Washington, DC, 2020-10) Cirera, Xavier ; Soares Martins-Neto, AntonioSeveral studies have documented a positive and causal relationship product or process innovation -- and labor productivity. Given the links between labor productivity and wages, a likely implication of this positive relationship is that innovation is associated with higher wages of more productive firms. This paper explores the relationship between innovation and wages using Brazil's employer-employee census and a novel measure of innovation derived from the share of technical and scientific occupations of workers in the firm. The results show a robust and positive wage premium associated with innovative firms. The decomposition of this innovation-related wage premium suggests a series of important stylized facts: (i) the innovation wage premium is larger for manufacturing but also positive and significant for agriculture and services; (ii) it is larger for large firms, but also positive and significant for all firm size categories including micro firms; and (iii) it is larger for medium- and low-skill occupations, although this depends on the use of firm fixed effects. More importantly, the paper explores the causality between innovation and wages and finds empirical support for the ideas that “self-selection”—firms that innovate already pay higher wages before becoming innovators -- and increases in wages associated with starting innovation activity, which are persistent for three years after firms start innovating.